If you have been reading my blogs for some time now, you would know one or both of these two things about me:
I love music
I am on a path to get closer to God and revive my spiritual spark – it should come as no surprise that I will be sharing more content on my Christian Journey here.
Today, a song that I have loved for a long time has been on my heart, mind and playlist. I thought I should share it here with hopes that someone may be blessed by it too.
Who Am I? by Casting Crowns:
I think I was either a teenager or about to be one when I first heard this song. It was on my older sister’s CD. Something in me sparked immediately and whenever that CD would play, I would make sure to fast forward to this song or excitedly wait for it to play.
By then I was still young, innocent and with minimal life encounters to fully comprehend the depths of the lyrics and what it meant to experience such love from God. The older I have grown and having lived through many trials, tribulations and errors- this song has become so meaningful and beautiful to me. It continues to carry so much weight as it is a reminder of God’s love for me.
Who am I that the Lord of all the earth, would care to know my name? Would care to feel my hurt?
In some of my most hurt seasons, I have felt the love of Christ move in closer than ever and just consume me. It is in such seasons that I have been reminded of the friend I have in Jesus.
When I was younger I had little or no exposure to the type of pain that had me second guessing alot of things- my worth, life, value and so much. The older I grew, life encounters really pushed me to dark places and it is in those times that I would be guided by the loving light of God. Imagine the marvelous grace, to have the creator of heaven and earth that available and present – proof that the Word does not lie when it honours Him as a present help in times of need.
Who am I, that the eyes that see my sins would look on me with love and watch me rise again?
Who am I that the voice that calms the seas, would call out through the rain and calm the storm in me
The amazing thing about God’s love for me is how even in moments and seasons, such as this one, when I feel unworthy and undeserving to be called His own, When the enemy tries to remind me of everything I have not done right and make me shy away from the presence of God. His eyes look at me with LOVE. The type of love that covers a multitude of sins. They type of love that is intentional about watching me rise again. Unmerited favour, uncommon grace. I always stand amazed in is presence.
And you told me who I am…. I AM YOURS
As Sinach rightly puts, I know who God says I am…and because of this realization I walk in power, liberty and victory.
Thank you all my loves who are journeying with me and praying with me.
And if anyone reading this does not have a relationship with God and yearns for one, please do let me know. I am happy to be your friend in faith and prayer.
It’s a Monday morning as I write this letter- around 7am on July 19th 2021. I am currently sitting at my study desk, I have been up for the past 4hours, getting some work done and listening to sermons and worship.
I do not know the direction this letter will take or whether it will be published or left in drafts. But I am compelled to write, so I will.
You’re currently at a stage in life that is very paradoxical. Things are going extremely great and extremely tragic in a frighteningly simultaneous manner. The past years haven’t been any easier too, but you are a tough girl- always have and always will be.
In this space, you have committed to re-ignite your relationship with God and I couldn’t be more proud of you. I believe there are seasons that can only be understood, survived and appreciated in the presence of the Lord. Infact, I believe ALL seasons can only be understood, survived and appreciated in the presence of the Lord.
You have been writing more consistently this year as you promised to do at the beginning. I am proud of your commitment. I am especially proud of the perseverance even on days when you would rather cave in and allow the wave of writer’s block to swipe over.
As you lose and find yourself in words, I hope letters such as this one serve as the needed view of the transition you have had when getting to the place you desire to be.
With God by your side, nothing will be impossible (Luke 1:37)
I pray you look (read) back on moments such as this one and see growth, resilience, humility, learnt lessons, love, joy and peace in the journey.
I pray you learn to appreciate both the highs and low.
I pray you understand that it’s okay to be flawed and imperfect as there is not one without sin but it is God who forgives and cleanses us.
1 John 1:8-10
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar, and His word is not in us.
I pray you learn from your mistakes and be intentional about being better.
I pray you resist the urge to redefine who you are or dilute your identity and self perception with the words of others.
I pray you remember you are who God says you are- above all else.
I have been meditating on the song titled “More Than Gold” by Judikay and I have been inspired to share on what it means to me, in this season and generally.
But first, here is the song:
Lately, I have been in a season which, all things being equal, should be one of my happiest ever. Almost everything I ever prayed for has come to fruition. Unfortunately, in this very season, I have been feeling more empty and lost than usual.
At first, I couldn’t put an exact finger on why the feelings were that way. I took a few steps back and begun evaluating my relationship with God and with people that matter most to me. I very quickly found myself lacking. I then realized that in this fast paced life full of various goals, ambitions and desires, I slacked in keeping my relationship with God as intense and consistent as it should be. The emptiness was a longing, a yearning… for a flame that once burnt so brightly.
“As a deer pants for water, so my soul longs for you …“
The song by Judikay really speaks volumes when it comes to the reality of the void in worldly possessions and achievements. God is truly all that is more than gold. One could “have it all” but without God, there really would be no contentment or peace. He is after all, the only one that gives peace that surpasses all human understanding.
” More than riches, more than life… Jesus is more than Gold…”
So, in this season, I am being intentional about re-igniting the flame. I love that scripture assures me that once I draw close to Him, He will draw close to me. Such a blessed assurance.
“Sweet Jesus, you’re the eyes that Isee through. Sweet Jesus, I am dancing to your tune …”
At the end of what can be termed the most trying quarter I’ve had to endure professionally (so far), I thought I should give an honest account of the struggles I have faced as a young professional and the lessons I have drawn along the way. Whereas this writing may resonate with others, I will mostly write from my perspective.
But before I start, here’s a musical attachment (which I believe explains this musing ) to accompany your reading:
The space I find myself in as a young professional is a whirlwhind of contradictions.
On one hand, I am entirely thrilled and overjoyed to have a job (the unemployment rate in my country and region is devastatingly low- my placement can’t be taken for granted). I feel achieved and privileged. Most days feel like blessings and I rarely doubt my potential and abilities.
On the other hand, however, I am just starting out- with a blank slate. Every day serving as a deposit in my bank of experiences. This means I am yet to make numerous errors and be filled with feelings of inadequacy and doubt along the way. People that have managed to rank high in the professional world attest to the fact that the journey is not one without struggles. But, much as we are told to expect struggles, the impact that downfalls may have on our mental health and well being has not been talked about enough. But no one can be blamed for this as it is largely a personal and subjective experience.
One of my personality traits is that I am a perfectionist. I usually like things done the right way and I take delight in positive results and accomplishments. This is as much of a blessing as it can be a “curse”. It is a blessing to the extent that this ability makes me go the extra mile in ensuring I do my level best in every discourse- socially, professionally, etc. However, it is a “curse” to the extent that it does not teach me how to surmount situations when regardless of doing my best; my best is not- good enough.
This has been the biggest struggle of being a young professional. There is an overwhelming desire to be immediately good (exceptional if anything). There is a tendency to knowingly and even unknowingly overlook the fact that our role models took years to perfect their craft and be able to navigate complex situations with ease. If there is a place where experience has proved to be a good teacher, it is the professional world. Young professionals, like myself, must be alive to this fact. We should not be too hard on ourselves as we journey and grow.
Lately, I have come to learn that what matters most is how many times I pick myself up after every down fall. As Taio Cruz sings in the embedded song, “sometimes the pain is what we need for us to grow“. All the failures experienced along the way are stepping stones as we strive for greatness. We must always appreciate the lessons that come with the journey and embrace both highs and lows.
I can’t wait to be a seasoned professional who would’ve risen above all the set backs and lessons and developed the required skill and expertise to THRIVE. Until then, I remain a struggling young professional who wakes up everyday and reminds herself that hitting rock bottom (the worst case scenario) only leaves room for one option- RISING ABOVE. Like Taio sings, “even with broken wings sometimes you find your way to FLY“
The following points explain how I surmount feelings of inadequacy as a young professional:
I remind myself that I am where I am for a PURPOSE, otherwise, I wouldn’t be there.
I affirm myself. Take a bathroom break, look in the mirror and say: “I am smart, I am capable, I will WIN”
I consult and have open conversations with my seniors, I ask how they dealt with setbacks when they were in my position and what they would advise me to do differently. I believe that there is power in community and that we are never without a friend.
I listen to UPLIFTING music- works like a charm 🙂
How do you rise above feelings of inadequacy as a young professional or even generally?
I recently reached out to members of the Afro-bloggers group to ask how people manage to strike a balance between pouring out and not over sharing. Wearing my heart on my sleeves is something I have always struggled with- mostly as a defense mechanism. “Why should I share so much with anyone and everyone? Why should people get to know me that well?” – are some of the thoughts that flood my mind whenever I try to be open and vulnerable. But, I digress … In the conversation with other bloggers, a handful of people shared how being able to write about honest experiences, weaknesses and vulnerabilities was a courageous stance that unknowingly helped to heal others and pave way for the much needed conversations about life and living.
In light of the foregoing, I thought I should start an unlimited series of random honest posts which I will call : Honest Musings. In these sessions, I will share real life experiences and struggles from a lived or closely noticed perspective. The delivery will vary and I hope to collaborate with or feature some other amazing bloggers and their stories.
For the first part, I’ll talk about something I’m way too familiar with- ANXIETY.
You can play this song in the background as you read this musing (P.s for sensitive readers/listeners, please excuse the french):
What is anxiety?
The dictionary definition of anxiety is, “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome”. Studies show that anxiety disorders are the most common form of emotional disorders and can affect anyone- AT ANY AGE. When one has anxiety, the feeling of excessive, irrational fear may be with them all the time. It is an intense and sometimes debilitating feeling.
From my lived experience, I agree with the dictionary and scholarly excerpts of anxiety shared above. Though I should add that no words can accurately describe the intensity and irrationality of the fear and worry that comes with anxiety. It’s for this reason that I embedded the song by Selena and Julia as I feel that their description is the closest to express what having to battle anxiety for me has been like. “I’ve got all these thoughts running through my mind, all the damn time and I can’t seem to shut it off.”
Anxiety and Me.
What’s weird is I can’t pin-point when exactly I started having my panic attacks and anxiety. Growing up, I know I was usually unconsciously WORRIED about the smallest things. Like, when I accidently broke water glasses in my mum’s kitchen or when I was told to present something in primary school. I always just felt excessively apologetic and sad for the smallest things and much worse when things didn’t go my way.
The older I grew, the more intense these feelings got. The pressure of excelling academically and the detriments of the lack thereof did not make things any better. I remember one time in High school, I did not perform well in my end of term examinations- I spent hours behind some classroom blocks, shivering and crying. A friend who found me attempted to talk me out of it by highlighting how “others were having it worse than I was“.
But, that’s the thing with anxiety, it defies logic. It presents all the things that could go wrong so VIVIDLY and casts a shadow on everything else that could go well. It’s not as easy as “snapping out of it”. Professionally, it requires therapists to properly manage and spiritually (from a Christian perspective), it requires studying of the scripture and praying against it. That is the magnitude and intensity of anxiety.
Myths about anxiety & how to “do better”.
From my experience, there are a number of myths associated with anxiety which I find to be offensive. Understandably though, they usually come from people who genuinely do not know how to do better. Some common myths include:
Anxiety is rooted in lack of gratitude. I have had people in the past always list things that have gone well in my life whenever I’m having anxiety about some unknown outcome. They seem to suggest, if I was grateful for the previously surmounted fears and worries, then there would be no logical reason to be “beaten down” by whatever hurdle. Such a perspective is as flawed as it is insensitive, regardless of the noble intentions that may be underlying. A better approach if found in a situation were you’re required to be there for someone battling is to acknowledge that there feelings are valid and walk them through how that particular situation can not lead to the outcome they are worried about or just assure them that you’ll be there for them and with them regardless. After all, “we all need somebody to lean on”.
Anxiety can easily be shut down. Drawing from the lyrics of the embedded song- “I’ve been told I could take something to fix it, damn I wish it- I wish it was that simple“. It must be understood that anxiety is an emotional disorder that affects one’s mental health, it needs as much attention and care as any physical ailments one may have. Being empathic about it is one way to definitely do better.
One can’t be happy and have anxiety. If you ever thought in these lines, please think again- it is very possible for one to be generally happy in their lives and still battle with anxiety when it comes to certain aspects.
How to cope with anxiety.
As narrated above, anxiety is not the easiest to “snap out of”. It is a continuous process of adhering to carefully crafted copying mechanisms. This much I know. We live in a very triggering world- now more than ever. Everything around us is so uncertain; this means that more people are battling with anxiety now more than ever.
Depending on the intensity of the anxiety, some coping mechanisms that have worked for me and that have been recommended by experts include:
Improved wellbeing. This is very subjective, but in simple terms it can be said to just do more of what you love- a “breather” or an “escape” . My escape is usually music and poetry. I literally get lost in words and find myself there.
Regular exercise. I love taking walks when I’m overwhelmed, I find it very relaxing and good for the mind. Others may run, do yoga, or swim whichever exercise seems to be for you- do what you can to take care of your mental health.
Therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy and psychotherapy are recommended by experts.
Medication. These should only be taken as and when they are prescribed by doctors.
Closing remarks: For anyone who has been battling with anxiety, please know that your feelings are valid. You are not alone and you are never without a friend. Sending love and light!